The entrance to Mint Wellness is rather grand and mysterious. At the end of a winding, foliage-laden lane on the exclusive Glen side of Camps Bay stands the entrance to a stately manor house. Beyond, lies a four-acre estate with a mountain pool, waterfall, streams, manicured lawns, lush woodland and superlative views of the Atlantic Ocean. This is Camps Bay Retreat, and in its verdant nature reserve, hidden by a thicket of trees, lies the Mint Wellness Spa.
The interior is mostly floor-to-ceiling glass windows and sliding doors through which the sunlight spills, filtered by the leafy trees; one feels totally secluded in nature. The layout is open plan, with one private treatment room, a sauna and steam room, a Jacuzzi and outdoor relaxation area and facilities. And to top it all, one is afforded the ultimate privacy of having the entire spa to oneself.
Spa manager Juanita Steyn greeted me warmly and explained the treatments I would be experiencing: A 90-minute ‘African Awakening’ Massage, followed by a 45 minute Guinot Lifting Facial. The treatment room (which is also suitable for couples) is a sharp contrast to the airy, light-filled spa area. It is dark with Moroccan style lanterns, exposed red bricks and dark wood, a Persian carpet and piles of logs ready for the flickering fire that adds warmth to the cooler winter days. It feels like a cosy log cabin.
The massage started differently from most, with Juanita asking me to lie on my back – a pleasant change from the instant ‘face down’ experience. With a flowing, steady rhythm Juanita began with a light style of massage incorporating elements of lymphatic drainage. As she worked the warm air was infused with aromas of fennel (good for detoxification) and floral essences of jasmine and neroli (to uplift the spirit.) The room was warm and utterly quiet and the time passed all too quickly.
For the facial – to lift and contour and improve the appearance of dull, tired skin – the products were soft and rich. The fresh, lightly scented botanical fragrances – so synonymous with luxury French skincare brands – smelt wonderful, as each new product was deftly applied.
An exfoliator with fruit acids and green tea extracts to brighten the skin was followed by a collagen-based serum – excellent for plumping up the skin. Then began the special part of the facial: a thermal (self heating) masque over a thin layer of gauze which started to heat up immediately – a strange but not at all unpleasant sensation. Claustrophobics should be warned that this dries to a solid, hard mask, which is ultimately lifted off in one piece from the face. The eyes and mouth are covered, although the therapist can leave them open beforehand if you think you may feel uncomfortable. Being familiar with this product, however, and thoroughly warm and relaxed, I enjoyed the process immensely.
As the facial concluded, Juanita gently informed me that the treatment time had ended, and with much regret I rose from my cocoon to emerge butterfly-like with glowing, hydrated skin that was very notably brighter, softer and firmer. How to maintain this is an altogether different matter!
Winding down outside the treatment room and sipping a cool glass of water, the usual spa soundtrack drifted to my ears. This time, however, it was the real thing: the sounds of the waterfall and stream were clearly audible.
Before I left, and to sweeten the parting, Juanita presented me with a little red gift bag of homemade bath salts and mini samples of Guinot products. She then showed me the most unique feature of Mint Wellness – the ‘Nature Baths.’ In a tented treatment room hidden away in the forest, two beautiful freestanding Victorian baths and massage tables comprise the ultimate romantic spa experience. With impressive views and total privacy, the setting resembles a luxurious hideaway deep in the bush.
It is not often that a spa experience ticks all the boxes, but after visiting Mint Wellness at Camps Bay Retreat, I can truly say that this one does. The spa stands in a gorgeous, secluded natural setting with spectacular views. It offers an array of interesting treatments and a skilled and friendly therapist. The full amenities offer the ultimate in privacy and tranquility, and a spa that is airy in summer and cosy in winter.
Mint Wellness is a special and wonderfully relaxing experience. One which leaves you feeling calm and refreshed and dreaming of your next visit.
Sam Reynolds is a freelance writer, photographer and spa consultant, with over 12 years international experience in the spa world. Her writing and photography can be seen at goldendreams.me.
Camps Bay Retreat
7 Chilworth Road, Camps Bay
Tel: 021 437 8300
Liftosome Guinot Facial – R700 | 45mins
African Awakening massage R650 | 90mins